Blending movement, tones and textures with your camera can feel a little like you’re an artist painting brush strokes onto canvas. The Live ND mode on the OM SYSTEM OM-1, OM-D E-M1X, OM-5, and OM-D E-M1 MKIII cameras, is a favourite amongst landscape photographers and my go-to tool, especially when the element of water is involved.

Due to the way it operates, you can set up the Live ND mode in just a few clicks whilst shooting on manual mode, then watch as water cascades through the frame via the LCD screen or viewfinder. Any setting adjustments you make impact the movement in real-time, so you can quickly adapt to the scene, speed of water, and conditions to produce the image result you’re seeking.

coastal_1 _live_nd_mode.jpg
OM-D E-M1 Mark III | 40-150mm F2.8 Pro lens
ISO 200 | f/22 | 1/4s

Waterfalls and ocean waves are two subjects I love photographing with the Live ND mode. I’ve never been a fan of using external filters on my gear, however, because the Live ND mode is built into the camera, it’s possible to capture long exposure photographs without additional equipment.

You can select between 5 ND steps then watch as composite technology creates the magic for you. Pairing the mode with the incredible stability on each camera, means you’re also able to capture long exposure images without a tripod, completely hand-held! I’ve found this enables me to get even more creative with composition possibilities and get really close to the water due to the impeccable weather sealing.

OM-1 | 40-150mm F2.8 Pro lens
ISO 100 | f/18 | 1/8sec

The mode can be used in low-light conditions, but there’s also the chance to capture long exposure images during the peak of midday sunlight. It’s all about simply adjusting the settings to suit the available light and always ensuring the water is correctly exposed. A collection of images below showcase how the Live ND mode can be used in various landscape scenes.From lush waterfalls to glacial streams flowing across sparkling ice, it provides the opportunity to capture unique images that feel alive with movement.

When photographing a coastal scene, I like to shoot in the golden hours of sunrise or sunset, to incorporate a colourful sky with the moving water and waves. Experimenting between shooting from sand level, or standing up to use the 40-150mm f2.8 pro lens and capture movement beyond where the waves are breaking, coastal landscapes offer so many chances to incorporate the Live ND mode.

OM-1 | 40-150mm F2.8 Pro lens
ISO 200 | f/7.1 | 1/5sec
OM-D E-M1 Mark III | 12-40mm F2.8 Pro lens
ISO 64 | f/22 | 1/4sec
coastal_2 _live_nd_mode
OM-1 | 12-40mm F2.8 Pro lens
ISO 800 | f/16 | 2.5sec

For a waterfall scene, it works best to watch for a few minutes and assess where the water is flowing. Look for interesting rocks or natural elements, and then compose your shot accordingly. I enjoy shooting with a wide aperture to blur foreground elements of greenery and create the effect that someone is peering through the trees to view the waterfall.

waterfall tree
OM-1 | 40-150mm f2.8 Pro lens
ISO 100 | f/2.8 | 1.3sec
OM-1 | 40-150mm f2.8 Pro lens
ISO 200 | F/7.1 | 1/5sec
OM-D E-M1 Mark III | 40-150mm f2.8 Pro lens
ISO 640 | F/5.6 | 1/4sec

Working with movement, whether it’s water, traffic, light or even intentional camera movement, is such a fun way to get creative when photographing. Using the Live ND mode when shooting ICM photography, an artistic technique that produces patterns with movement and light, allows you to experiment as a photographer.

As an example, while photographing a salt lake in Australia, I was drawn toward the small piles of white salt sitting on a pink-crusted surface. Setting the Live ND mode to capture a long exposure, I spun wildly in a circle, moving myself and the camera in a repetitive line to create an artistic shot of the pink and white tones of the salt lake. Creative possibilities are endless when shooting with the Live ND mode and I’d encourage anyone using the OM SYSTEM cameras noted above, to experiment and see how you can incorporate this feature into your own landscape imagery, it’s a complete game changer!

salt lake
OM-1 | 7-14mm F2.8 Pro lens
ISO 320 | F/2.8 | 0.8sec

Lisa is an Australian travel and landscape photographer and editor of The Wandering Lens. Having worked throughout various photographic genres over the past 17 years, both above and below the water level, her focus keeps returning to the patterns and tones within landscapes. Glaciers, deserts and regions of climatic significance are environments she’s passionate about documenting, naming Greenland, Iceland, Namibia and Chile as countries she’d happily photograph again and again.


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When to Use the Internal Live ND Filter

View use cases and example photography for using the OM-D Internal Live ND Filter feature.

OM SYSTEM Ambassador Frank T. Smith
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